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Photos by Rich Hoyer
We’ll start birding near Santa Cruz, where the tour starts, and Campo Flicker is among the many possibilities.
Most days begin with a lovely picnic breakfast, the new habitat being full of potential. Here we’re in the fascinating Chaco region.
Great Rufous Woodcreeper is one of the exciting species we might see here.
The lovely and well-named Many-colored Chaco Finch is actually an aberrant saltator.
Found only in Paraguay, Argentina, and most easily in this region of Bolivia, is the Black-legged Seriema, one of only two members of the family and order.
We’ll be here towards the end of the dry season, but if it’s been a mild winter and not too dry there could some butterfly activity, here a Chaco Banded Metalmark.
We’re in for a big change as we move to the fairytale-like view of our next destination, Refugio Los Volcanes.
This is the only place where we’ll be birding in moist Andean foothill forest, low enough that we even see several species of a more Amazonian flavour.
We have a good chance of seeing the curious and beautiful Plush-crested Jay here.
The botanical diversity here explodes, and we should be able to see this amazing orchid, Phragmipedium caricinum, growing on the rocks in the stream.
From here we’ll move into a third biome known as the Valle Region, a series of dry valleys and ridges with semihumid forest, here a typical view of one of the towns.
We’ll visit the very dry valley of the Mizque River for several specialities.
The Bolivian Earthcreeper will be found in the more densely vegetated draws.
The subspecies of Monk Parakeet here is quite distinctive vocally and visually, and they build their stick nests within cliff crevices (hence the name, Cliff Parakeet).
Blue-crowned Parakeets might be feeding in fruiting trees.
The White-fronted Woodpecker prefers large stands of columnar cacti.
One of the most sought-after species in this region is the endemic Red-fronted Macaw, one of the rarest macaws in the world.
We stay at a simple but surprisingly nice hotel in the small town of Comarapa.
Then we move to yet another biome, the moist cloud forests of the mid- to high-elevation Andean ridges.
We bird the morning through to our picnic lunches on most days.
Its tendril-vining habit makes this Mutisia species an oddity among the sunflower family…
…but it’s also one of the favourite nectar plants for the stunning endemic Black-hooded Sunbeam.
If it’s sunny here, the Cloud-forest Firetips might be active…
along with Yellowish Sulphur.
Some birds in this habitat might be the adorable Bolivian Tyrannulet,…
…the always stunning Scarlet-breasted Mountain-Tanager,…
…or the less colourful Puna Tapaculo, one of the rare members of the genus that might actually come out in the open.
Our final hotel in the Cochabamba valley has lush gardens that attract many common birds.
Water features here also attract Andean Treefrogs.
From here we ascend to true Andean heights above treeline where many special birds occur.
The weedy roadsides on the way up the mountain road might have flocks of Gray-hooded Parakeet.
Andean Flickers could occur at almost any elevation on the mountain.
We’ll have to get lucky to find a Scribble-tailed Canastero but even luckier to count ourselves among the few who have actually seen the scribbles.
Mountain Caracaras have no limit to their upper elevation.
We’ll take a stroll amongst the beautiful boulder-strewn slopes in search for the elusive Short-tailed Finch.
…but the more colourful Bright-rumped Yellow-Finch would not be a disappointing consolation.